Question Response for CoC Question ID 87377 - HUD Exchange Ask A Question
Question Related To: Continuum of Care Program
Question ID: 87377
Question Subject: Equal Access + Fair Housing + Housing First
- Fair Housing + Equal Access
- QUESTION #1: If a CoC has a Coordinated Entry system where a call center screens all homeless services calls to place them into the appropriate project and program (ES, TH, RRH, PSH, Shelter Diversion, etc.) where some of the projects may only serve certain population/household types, but the CoC has plenty of projects to serve the needs of all population/household types, is this considered to be in compliance with Fair Housing in regards to non-discriminatory practices?
- DETAIL: For example, a CoC may have seven ES projects where one of the projects may serve only single adult males, but the other six projects fulfill the needs of all other population/household types. This pertains to a non-federally funded ES project.
- Housing First + Equal Access
- QUESTION #2: (similar to question above) If a CoC has a Coordinated Entry system where a call center screens all homeless services calls to place them into the appropriate project and program (ES, TH, RRH, PSH, Shelter Diversion, etc.) where some of the projects may only serve certain population/household types, but the CoC has plenty of projects to serve the needs of all population/household types, is this considered to be in compliance with Housing First and Fair Housing?
- DETAIL: For example, a CoC may have twelve PSH projects where one of the projects may serve only chronically homeless single females with age of 55+, but the other projects fulfill the needs of all other population/household types. This pertains to a COC funded project, but we would also like to know if this applies to non-federally funded projects, as well.
Thank you for your question. The questions you pose are fairly general, and whether or not those placements are allowed will depend on the circumstances. Regarding the specific examples you provided, we can give some clarity, and also some contextual information.
Coordinated entry processes need to follow their own non-discriminatory requirements, including ensuring full access, standardized assessments, and referrals that do not exclude persons on the basis of any protected classes or any persons on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
HUD encourages the CoC to work with providers to be sure they understand Fair Housing and civil rights law requirements, and that all shelter and housing is equally available to all, unless there is a statutorily approved limitation on the shelter or housing. Operators of the coordinated entry are not expected to be able to evaluate whether or not a project is compliant with fair housing and civil rights requirements. Some violations are easily spotted, such as operating single sex housing when it doesn't meet the criteria to do so, but other violations might not be so obvious and might require a little bit of research.
For those shelter and housing projects that are funded by CoC or ESG Program funding, they must follow all applicable fair housing and civil rights requirements, e.g., only operating as single-sex when a facility meets the exemption criteria to do so. The examples provided don't give enough information to know if they're out of compliance or not. It is possible to have single sex emergency shelter if it meets the criteria to do so, and it is possible to have housing limited to individuals over 55 if it meets the criteria to do so.
Here's a bit more detail on limiting projects to single sex:
The designation of "single sex" is intended for structures that prevent personal privacy, so if residents have both private bedrooms and access to a bathroom in which they are the only occupant, there is not a prevention of personal privacy in these spaces.
Single-sex facilities may be acceptable, but only under certain limited conditions.
- The facility must be for individuals only. A facility that accepts families with children cannot be single sex. An example of this might be a shelter that serves single women only (women not in families, without children under 18); AND
- The facility must not be considered a "dwelling unit" or it must have a shared bathing facility. This policy is stated most clearly in the CoC interim rule, at §578.93 (pgs 38-40,104-105): "The housing may be limited to one sex where such housing consists of a single structure with shared bedrooms or bathing facilities such that the considerations of personal privacy and the physical limitations of the configuration of the housing make it appropriate for the housing to be limited to one sex."